Efficacy of skills learning stations: not your typical “check the box” training

3 min readMay 26, 2022


As we pull onto the driveway, we spot a state of the art training and innovation hub sitting on a well manicured lawn on the lush campus grounds. We make our way to the loading dock and haul in our training gear passing a house keeping team meticulously coming down the courtyard.

Today’s training consists of about three dozen students who we’ve been corresponding with virtually. They’ve been good about getting started with their pre-reads and installing the Smart First Aid mobile application.

We’ve got quite a number of rooms/learning spaces availed to us and so we’ve set up multiple skills learning stations, each complete with a set of adult, child and infant mannequins, a pair of pediatric and adult bag valve mask kits, an automated external defibrillator (AED) trainer (with adult and child pads), among other training supplies. We’ve got an instructor stationed at each of the skills learning stations and in just a few minutes, we will be ready to kick off the class. After a quick round of introductions, we’re well underway with the first module.

The American Heart Association training curriculum combines instructor-led training with video based learning, classroom discussions and skills practice sessions that allow for instructor demonstrations while students get to do return demonstrations to practice skills learned.

As the morning progresses, students begin to hone in on important life saving Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) skills in their pre-assigned skills learning stations. Before long, the students proceed to combine CPR compressions with ventillations. As the day progresses, they’ve learned how to assist a choking victim by performing the Hiemlech Maneuver. The students get a chance to demonstrate their newly acquired skills back to the instructor as part of the skills test. The day concludes with a written exam and with all students having successfully passed we proceed with awarding of the certificates.

Much can be said about the effectiveness of the learning stations technique over traditional teaching methods. This technique takes a learning-teaching approach that allows students to work in groups, go through a set of scenarios that help reinforce their understanding of the topic/skill. In this student-centered approach, the smaller instructor: student ratios gives students an opportunity to individually practice their newly aquired skills in a small group setting with guidance from their instructor.

Following the training course, students noted a few notable observations regarding this approach:

“Demonstrations from instructors followed by an opportunity to do return demonstrations worked well”

“Practicals were great”

“Good learner/instructor interactions”

“Great chance to practice skills

“Classroom practicals enhanced simulation skills”

Further research reveals that the learning stations technique is effective in increasing student success, improving academic achievement and increasing retention rates (Research in Pedagogy, 2019).

A bystander equipped with basic life support training strengthens the chain of survial and serves as a bridge for care in the moments immediately following an emergency. A learning station training technique that distills life saving skills into easy to follow steps is what differentiates an impact-based training from a “let’s check the box” training.

Next time you are looking to gain some BLS skills, insist on enrolling in a center that uses the learning station training technique to promote skills retention and mastery.